The Walter Soboleff Center

Sealaska Heritage Institute

Funding Received: 2013
Juneau, AK
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
February 10, 2014

Crystal Worl modeling a fish skin top by Joel Isaak during the fashion show; photo by Steve Quinn

SHI hosted the Tináa Art Auction of Feb. 1st to raise funds for its new facility, named the Walter Soboleff Center. The Black tie event, sold out and brought artists and collectors from all over the country. Around 300 people attended the Tináa Art Auction and over $300,000 were raised for the construction of the $20 million facility. The event combined a gourmet dinner by Tlingit Chef Robert Kinneen, a fashion show displaying contemporary designs of Alaska Native designers, and a high energy art auction of internationally acclaimed artists. Some of the Artists who donated work to the auction included Robert Davidson, David Boxely, Preston Singletary, Nicholas Galanin, Fred Bemis, and Steve Brown. Sealaska Heritage Institute hopes to make Juneau the Art Hub for Northeast Coast Art bringing collectors and enthusiasts from all over the world to view Juneau’s amazing art.

2Feb_Sealaska Bentwood Box by David Boxley

David Boxley is an internationally recognized Tsimshian master artist who crafted this beautiful chest with his two sons David R. and Zach Boxley. The Bentwood Box is a symbol unique to the culture of Northwest Coast Native people. The Bentwood Box served as furniture, storing items, burying the dead and also cooking.


 Yakutat Village Canoe by Fred Bemis

This canoe is 17 ft. 7inch spruce river canoe, it is the first of its kind made in over 60 years. Fred Bemis, carved this seaworthy vessel to emanate village or river canoes that were used to collect food. This canoe is the canoe that flew. After missing the ferry to Juneau, the canoe had to be flown by Wings of Alaska to Juneau in order to be in Juneau in time for the Auction.


Copper Totem by Preston Singletarty.

Preston Singletary is internationally celebrated for his innovative creations. This 19-inch piece demonstrates the iconic Northwest Coast Totem Pole, at the top is a being holding a copper Tináa, the symbol of wealth and status. 


“What we have come” by Nicholas Galanin

 Galanin draws elements from his northwest coast native heritage to make visually compelling statements on identity, politics and indigenenity. “What we have come” is Galanin’s face cut into an empty book. According to Nicholas, many representations of indigenous culture take the form of books written by outsiders. This piece forcefully expresses the deprivation of identity of those individuals who diverge from such restricted definitions of culture.